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A Comprehensive Guide to Treating Over Weight Children

Obesity amongst U.S. youth is a serious concern as being overweight and obese increases risk for poor overall health. Although the rate at which the prevalence among preschool-aged children has decreased, overweight/obesity rates among our youth is still too elevated. The concern for the prevalence of youth obesity stems from the health risks associated with this disease. Youth obesity is associated with increased co-morbidities.

For children who are over weight or obese, scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of weight management in:

•Reduction in risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease¹
•Reduction of blood pressure¹
•Improvement of insulin sensitivity¹
•Reduction of serum triglycerides¹

Symptoms Associated with Obesity-Related Health Conditions⁴

  • Sleep apnea or snoring
  • Shorter sleep time or restlessness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Recurrent abdominal pain
  • Heartburn or epigastric pain
  • Frequent headaches
  • Polyuria or polydipsia
  • Amenorrhea or oligomenorrhea (irregular menses)
  • Hip or knee pain
  • Depression
  • Problems with social interaction
  • Anxiety, school avoidance, social isolation
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • History of eating disorders (binge eating, bulimia, anorexia nervosa)


Dietary interventions have been shown to be an integral part of a comprehensive weight management program. ¹ A comprehensive weight management program for youth should include nutrition guidelines, behavior therapy, physical activity and pharmacotherapy, if applicable and necessary. The Pediatric Plan provided in a link below will provide further guidelines for the nutritional intervention needed for successful pediatric and adolescent weight management programming.

Children and adolescents are in the most active growth periods of their lives and due to this, there is no straightforward treatment approach as there is with adults. The overall goal of weight loss and weight management programming for youth who are overweight is to maintain their current weight and let them “grow into it” by growing taller. For youth that are obese, the overall goal is to create a caloric deficit utilizing healthy, portion-controlled food choices and encouraging physical activity on a regular basis. Weight loss and management programming should not mimic practices conducted in adult weight loss and management programming. It is not until after puberty has been obtained, should an adolescent attempt to lose 1-2 pounds per week. ³ This pediatric weight management plan in below link will highlight the nutrition protocol for each age group more specifically.


Read more in the  Pediatric weight Management Plan


Sources: HealthWise Pediatric Weight Management Plan – Childhood Obesity Tied to Higher Risk of Anxiety, Depression, Premature Death.

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HealthWise Pediatric Weight Management Plan Resources:

1. NCHS Data Brief, No. 219, November 2015. The Prevelence of Obesity Amongst Adults and Youth: United States, 2011-2014.
2. American Dietetic Association, Pediatric Weight Management Toolkit; 2010.
3. , Weight Loss Strategies for Overweight Kids; Sharon Liao; 2017.
4. ; American Academy of Pediatrics; 2017.
5. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics., 2014 October; 114 (10): 1601-1610. Parent Readiness to Change Differs for Overweight Child Dietary and Physical Activity Behaviors.
6. ; Obesity: The Link Between Your Weight and Your Family. Sarah Earhardt, MS, RD, LD, CDE, 2017.
7. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Are You Involved In Family Dinner? Why Closeness Matters in Reducing Childhood Obesity. Reviewed by Wendy Marcason, RDN Sept. 2017.
8. Pediatrics Volume 134; No. 5, Nov. 2014. Childhood Obesity and Interpersonal Dynamics During Family Meals; Jerica M. Berge PhD, MPH, LMFT, CFLE et. al.